SPIRITUAL TIES :
Throughout her life the Servant of God Zita wove spiritual ties with many Monasteries and Religious Institutes.
Without claiming to be exhaustive, the list we can draw up is impressive.
It must be stressed that most of these Monasteries and Institutes have preserved a vivid memory of Empress Zita and pray today for the Cause of her Beatification.
From her earliest years Zita was in close contact with the Abbey of Sainte-Cécile of Solesmes. Her first visit was in 1899: she went to see her grandmother, Queen Adélaïde of Portugal, who had entered the monastery in 1897 and become Mère Adélaïde de Braganza. Zita’s sister Adélaïde would enter Sainte-Cécile in 1907, her sister Franziska in 1913 and her sister Maria Antonia in 1919. This Monastery, founded in 1866, could be considered the centre of the Servant of God’s spiritual life. She would make frequent long stays there, profiting from an indult granted by Pope Pius XII authorising her to stay within the enclosure and thus share in the life of the nuns.
Madame Cécile Bruyère, the foundress and first Abbess of the monastery, used to say that: “Holiness is the whole point of our existence, and life is not worth living if we do not tend toward this goal.” These words are virtually the guiding principle of the Servant of God’s life.
At the age of 11 (in 1903), Zita became a border at the Visitation Monastery of Zangberg in Bavaria (Kloster Zangberg Schwestern der Heimsuchung Mariä)
She remained there until 1908. This is what she said about it:
“Demonstrating genuine solicitude, the nuns nevertheless applied their principles of education with great strictness even meticulousness, but always in a spirit that was just and balanced. If, later on, I had been free to choose whom to entrust my daughters to, I would have sent them to Zangberg.”
In 1909, the Servant of God spent several months at Ryde (Isle of Wight, England), where the Abbey of Sainte-Cécile was in exile on account of the French laws forbidding religious congregations. In 1922, when it became possible for the community to return to France, the nuns of ‘Pax Cordis Iesu’, founded on the Isle of Wight by Belgian Benedictine nuns in 1882, moved into the monastery vacated by the exiled Solesmes nuns; the Monastery continued to be known as St Cecilia’s Abbey, Ryde. It was here that Zita pursued her studies in Church History, Latin, organ, etc. and mastered Gregorian Chant.
It was during her stay that the foundress and first Abbess of the monastery, Madame Cécile Bruyère, died. Zita was present at this transitus, which she loved to recall afterwards, for it made a profound impression upon her.
When her fiancé, Archduke Charles, was sent by Emperor Franz Josef as his representative at the Coronation of George V in June 1911 (8 days after becoming engaged to Zita), he did not fail to add the monastery to his itinerary in order to visit his future sister-in-law, Mère Marie-Bénédicte de Bourbon.
The Servant of God Zita became an oblate of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre of Solesmes on 24th May 1926, as her daughter Adélaïde would do some years later. The ceremony took place at the Abbey of Sainte Cécile de Solesmes.
Mère Maria-Antonia de Bourbon, the Servant of God’s sister, would become Prioress of the Abbey of Saint-Michel de Kergonan, and Zita stayed there several times.
During her stay in Québec, the Servant of God visited the Abbey of Sainte-Marie des Deux-Montagnes near Oka several times.
Besides these places, mention must also be made of the great Marian Sanctuaries, especially Mariazell in Austria, the first place the imperial couple visited after their marriage in October 1911. In September 1982, returning to Austria after 63 years in exile, Zita had the great joy of seeing these places of prayer once again.
The Servant of God always remained close to the spiritual family of “The Work/Das Werk”, canonically erected as an Ecclesial Family of Consecrated Life of Pontifical Right, founded by Mother Julia Verhaeghe in 1938.
The Abbey of Solesmes is situated in the diocese of Le Mans. That is why the Beatification Process is taking place there.
May the Servant of God help to fulfill the wish of Monseigneur Yves Le Saux, the Bishop of the diocese, expressed in the editorial of l'Eglise en Sarthe (November 2014) “I have just dreamt of a proper feast of All the Saints of the diocese of Le Mans.”
The House of Hapsburg has ties with the Monastery of Muri going back more than 1000 years. In 1971 a tomb was built in the Chapel of Our Lady of Loretto. It contains the mortal remains of several members of the family. The Servant of God’s heart, as well as that of her husband, Blessed Charles, rests in a reliquary situated behind the altar in this chapel.
Since 1st April 1989, the Servant of God’s body rests in the Capuchins’ Crypt in Vienna (Gruftkapelle).